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September 2005

PK Tech Girl Rides Again

Last week'ish Steve picked up a computer virus. An adware trojan, to be specific. It commandeered Steve's homepage and changed all of his web searches and popped up bad porn every five minutes. I really and truly do not understand the marketing rationale behind this kind of programming. Someone pays somebody for this service and yet how could they ever recoup the cost? Even if one happened to be desperately in need of pornography and even if the pornography that kept appearing was specifically geared to one's unusual and nuanced fetish... one would still never ever pay to see more of the stuff because the fucking bastards who are offering it have just hijacked your computer. I think it is possible to annoy customers and still keep them (case in point: our insurance company is staffed by half-witted bottom-feeders and yet their premiums are just so reasonable I cannot give them the axe) but it is not possible to simultaneously plunge a consumer into white-hot murderous rage and sell them anything.

The process of removing this trojan still haunts my dreams. Stupid McAfee threw up its little bytes in despair after tentatively suggesting that there might be a virus somewhere and then declaring the situation was utterly utterly hopeless. I finally went into the registry and hacked out the offending files by hand BUT as soon as I rebooted it started all over again. Over and over and over I did this. Apparently the trojan created not one but two executable files and when one was deleted the other one would automatically create it again. Like I said, BASTARDS. It took eight hours and a trip to the computer store to finally set things right and the solution, in case you are experiencing similar angst, was Panda Platinum. I am more than a little in love with this virus software. For starters, I have had McAfee's installed for two years and yet when I changed to Panda I learned that I had not one but two versions of the My Doom worm on my computer. Seriously. But Panda.... so efficient. So comprehensive. And the logo - darling. Just like little Butterstick at the National Zoo.

However, and here is where I get to the point, it created a firewall on both my computer and Steve's that brought our wee home network to its knees. I am sure there is a way around it but at press time I have yet to make even a dent. Apart from the blow to my pride (I created this network; how dare it snub me?) this is a problem because Steve's computer has the media card reader and therefore holds the digital pictures of the bedroom I had planned on asking for your help with today. I suggested that Steve let me type this on his computer, perhaps while he came out of his office and cleaned the kitchen, but he said something about "Work... blah blek... wage earner... something something... get out." Not very cooperative, not much a team player I am afraid.

So, for now, my home decor issues must go unresolved. Pity.

Speaking of computers and cool software (as I am thinking about it) I just started a little project that is making me quite happy. For, oh, about 15 years I had a friend who made me exquisite mix tapes (clarification: I still have the friend, I think, unless he died- HELLO? Did you die?- but he no longer makes me tapes. or even CDs.) As we moved this big chest-like thing from the living room to the basement to make room for the soon-to-be-arriving bar cabinet (wait until you see this bar cabinet- it's gorgeous. oh damn it! I can't post pictures! must rectify that...) I emptied the chest-like thing of its contents. For the most part it was filled with my less portable music (vinyl, kiddies, VINYL) and my more fragile music (the cassettes.) I thought about what a pity it was that I am now afraid to touch these things and how nice it would be to convert them to something more usable and how hard could that be, really? After a few false starts (one problem with creating digital files from vinyl or cassette is that the song breaks cannot be recognized, so your mix tape becomes one 80 minute track on CD) I successfully burned my first CD last night - with individual tracks. I squealed and clapped and congratulated myself enthusiasticaly. I don't know about the universality of the desire to create digital files from old music so I will not get into the details, unless you want to know. In which case just ask. And I will tell you.

Final (knock wood) ultrasound this afternoon. I shall report back. I actually started SPOTTING this morning, which I take as an encouraging sign. I just wrote to someone that I hope the Miscarriage Bunny pays a visit to my house very soon and lo and behold.... (knock wood again.) We'll see.         

Some People Write Very Clever Titles

It is Patrick's third official week of preschool so naturally he has been battling a cold for the past seven days. What is up with little kids? Why so germy? I don't care that they are building their immune system libraries now so that they may be more productive adult world citizens, I am tired of dealing with a child so edgy and irrational he might as well be perched in a clock tower somewhere. Fine, Patrick, use the crayon on the dining room table! Put the Playdoh in the CD player! Start shooting! I just don't care anymore. Not to mention the fact that my throat has been sore since Patrick started sniffling and it is making me cranky (so much for the fucking viral library, eh?)

Yesterday Patrick woke up crying from a tragically abbreviated nap. He proceeded to cup both hands over his ears and tearfully pleaded with me for medicine. I am not a fool, nor am I immune to his sufferings, but I have been burned by the Ear Infection Fairy before and I suspiciously asked if his ear hurt. "Yes," he whimpered. "Which ear?" I pressed. "Both of them hurt," he said, tugging on them and grimacing for emphasis.

If you are a parent you already know this and if you hope to one day be a parent you will need to know this (if children repulse you, um, hi! thanks for reading! would you like me to tell you some more things to do with baking soda? I know I have been a little insular lately): you never want to take your child to the doctor if they just have some crappy virus because a) it is a waste of time and b) they will pick up some completely new virus in the waiting room, thus doubling or tripling total sick-and-irritating time for no good reason. However, there is always the lingering specter of the dreaded Ear Infection, which needs antibiotics or else you will be really really sorry before it is over (I was an ear infection kid myself- just miserable.) So when your child gets sick and points to the ears (a region that is remarkably close to, you know, the throat and the sinuses and all other sickly but non-earlike parts) the smart parent, like the cat i' the adage, lets "I dare not" wait upon "I would" and shimmies back and forth trying to decide whether to risk a visit to the pediatrician. And eventually decides it is better to be on the safe side. And goes. And explains to the Good Doctor that one is afraid that little Beetlebell has an ear infection.

But, if one is me, he never ever ever does. Never. Not once. And one feels stupid.         

So yesterday I quizzed Patrick about his ears for a good twenty minutes before Steve and I packed him off to the Urgent Care, just to be on the safe side. I felt so vindicated when the doctor confirmed that he does, indeed, have a wonky ear. And then I felt even more vindicated when he asserted that it was just the one ear, though, not both. I was right to bring him in AND I was right assume that Patrick is as unreliable about what hurts as he has always been.

Huh. I wasn't going to write about the Sickness at all and yet... there it is. They say invalids and doting mothers are the two most boring people on earth. Double whammy, right here.

Steve is luring me downstairs with promises of board games and more episodes from the fourth season of Farscape. Like others before us we finally realized that the whole point of Netflix is watching television shows in their entirety back to back to back to back to.... yes. Although I have not watched an actual television broadcast (apart from sports of course- I like to watch football while I flip through cookbooks) in, um, I don't know, two years, I am completely entranced with everything on DVD. Steve assures me that Farscape features aliens and space and other stupid boring things of great boring stupidness, but I have not yet noticed any particular science fiction theme to the show; just that capital D Dreamy Ben Browder and a bunch of other people doing, um, something.

I need to go Wife (the word "parent" when used as a verb makes my skin crawl, just so you know.) I will be back tomorrow (Patrick and his ear infection willing) because I want to post some pictures of blank, odd spaces in my newly reorganized house and ask what the hell we should do with them. It'll be fun.

Oh, and I need restaurant recommendations for Boston, please. I am going next weekend (weekend after next) for a Patrick-free, Steve-free self-indulge-o-rama with a friend (hopefully friends) and we are planning on accentuating the best of the Seven Deadly: first up, Gluttony. 

PS Really? Has Boston grown so much since I was a slip of a girl and that nice Mr. Revere warned everyone of the Great Peril? All the restaurants are no longer found in the Restaurant Complex over in the Restaurant District? You need to know where I am staying so that I can stagger safely back again? OK. I will be staying, and I quote, "In fashionable Back Bay, steps away from the boutiques and restaurants of Newbury Street and within easy reach of Boston's medical and biotechnology centers and universities." I will allow you to guess whether I will be taking advantage of x perhaps more than y. So tell me where to toddle. And, yes, I eat meat. I eat everything. Often.

PPS I think I might be eroding Steve's faith in me when I say I am coming upstairs to get some cheese and crackers, so pause it, and he discovers me at my computer typing away- no cheese to be seen anywhere. Let alone crackers.


Half-way through making bulgogi last night I discovered that I have no beef in the house. Since marinade wrapped in lettuce cups is just wet leaves (ok, salad) we opted to dine out. And, being the foolishly indulgent parents that we are, we allowed Patrick to choose the restaurant. This is how we wound up at the place with the alphabet-shaped french fries... again.

In the car Patrick rhapsodized about these glorified tater tots and asked which letters, specifically, he would get to eat. I said I did not know. He repeated the question a few times. I said we would have to wait and see. He thought about it and then said, "I think I will get the A and the S and the D and the F and the G and the H and the J and the K and the L. Yes."

I looked at Steve and said, "Wasn't that interesting?"

And Steve said, "The fact that he said some letters out of order?"

And I said, "No. The fact that he said them out of alphabetical order but in the order in which they appear on a typewriter keyboard."

And Steve said, "Huh." And I said, "Huh."

And Patrick said, "With ketchup."

Patrick and I went to a birthday party after preschool today. The parents of one of his classmates handed out invitations to all 11 kids last week and included parents and siblings. I was tremendously impressed by this display of parental perfection (you will recall I only had three children for Patrick's party and almost had a seizure from the stress) and grew even more so when we arrived at the park to find they had created a little barnyard scene complete with a child-sized cardboard barn, hay bales, rocking horse and stuffed animals scattered about. The birthday girl galloped around on an imaginary animal shouting "YeeeeeHAW! YeeeeeeHAWWWWW!"and the cake was in the shape of a pig's face. A theme party, obviously, and it quickly became apparent that the raison de the theme was the child's smitten-obsession with farms and farm animals. It was, quite literally, all she talked about. I mean ALL. SHE. TALKED. ABOUT.   

I found this fact unexpectedly soothing. As long as Patrick is healthy and happy we are content to just let him develop any old way (less work frankly) but I have to admit that in my secret heart I find his absorption with letters, numbers, pattern repetition, etc. unnerving. And I wonder if maybe we should DO something about it. Like maybe he is six thousand meters from normal in a bad way. He plays with PlayDoh, but he almost always uses it to create letters. He likes to paint, but his pictures tend to have things like 2+6=8 scribbled on them (I once suggested he paint a cat and he cried until I apologized for my insolence.) When we take walks in the woods he will muse, "Acorn, bacorn... bacon! That sort of rhymes. And bacon starts with B! We should find a Bacon Tree. No, wait, we should find an apple tree and THEN a bacon tree and THEN a cloud tree and...." and so on until the zebra tree is reached.      

So it was nice for me to gain perspective as one of his contemporaries ranted crazily about pigs and cows and weather vanes. Maybe everybody has their Thing? Perhaps all three year olds have these grand passions?

Patrick listened respectfully to his hostess's views on the farm and then said, "P-I-G spells pig." And she said, "Pigs say oink and they have lots of piglets and they eat potatoes in milk."

At which point Patrick and the birthday girl wandered off together and took turns going down the really big slide. I probably shouldn't worry so much.


Great googlie-mooglies, people, did I get anything right on Friday? Anything at all?

I have been informed that the cell phone - unlock the car door thing is untrue. A myth. An urban legend. However, not being one to merely accept such a statement (again) without taking the trouble to confirm or deny it, I spent the weekend conducting extensive trials. And I can tell you that both my sensible, sturdy, American-made conveyance du sport (with collapsible third row seating! and mud flaps! - a paltry $52 at the pump) and Steve's silly man car (passable fuel efficiency and it can strip the paint from the barn when it really gets moving, BUT you have to fly someone in from Bavaria just to change the oil) simply laughed when confronted with the cell phones. They certainly did not unlock.

The real shame of it all is that I heard this zinger from such a reliable source, too. There I was in the preschool corridor lamenting the fact that I had locked my keys in the car that very morning and a sweet older woman piped up, "I'm Nathan's granny and I used to lock the keys in my car all the time, mercy me. Then I heard about... cell phone... clicker... car door... and it works! Gracious heavens, it has saved me many times indeed! Cluck cluck."

Now, as soon as I figure out which one Nathan is (the blond kid, obviously, this is Minnesota, but WHICH blond kid?) I will have to tell him that his Grandma Bess is a lying whore. Such a shame.   

And, to keep with the theme, apparently the correct term is a "double bleb." Not a blep- a bleb. See the difference? OK, now stand on your head and read it upside-down. Frankly I think both versions are adorable.

So I stand (on my head) corrected. Although, to be brutally honest, the double bleb theory wasn't all that interesting in the first place. It is just that, accepting that there were two visible circles inside the gestational sac and that one was a yolk sac, it does beg the question: what the hell was the other one? The few possibilities that I can come up with include: another yolk sac (right! twins!); a fetal pole (apparently the earliest fetal pole is curved); random tissue (why not?) and the double bleb.

This excerpt from Radiology (Radiology, Vol 166, 97-103, Copyright © 1988 by Radiological Society of North America) defines the double bleb thusly: "The amniotic sac-embryo-yolk sac complex can be seen with ultrasonography (US) as two small blebs of almost equal size attached to the wall of the early gestational sac. We have called this the double bleb sign. Since the developing embryo and its cardiac pulsation are located between these two blebs, the size of an early embryo can be measured."

In other words, there is a brief moment in a developing pregnancy (or non-developing; devolving; interloping) when the yolk sac and the amniotic sac are seen as two roundish  entities, without a visible fetal pole.

No big deal, just the most reasonable explanation I could come up with for how the two moons of Mars wound up in my uterus.

And yes, I know I promised that I would leave the subject alone for two whole weeks but, really, this is more of a continuation of the last post. It was killing me to be oh-so-very wrong about everything without screeching mea culpa.

Speaking of mea culpa, I must get back to my studies.... hoc est faciendum mihi.

Just Imagine How Bored *I* Am With This

File under News You Can Use:

If you have a remote-entry clicker for your car (well, two, actually) and you have locked your keys in said car and are standing there like a fool silently cursing your own stupidity, it is possible to call whoever has the other clicker and, by holding a cell phone up to the door, have them unlock the car by clicking into the phone. Got that? Keys-cell phone-clicker-door-unlock!

Cool, huh?

So I am waiting for official word but we might have a new pregnancy diagnosis in the offing [Ed. To clarify, I assume the new diagnosis will be Cursed] - what with the perfectly enormous yolk sac that was visible at yesterday's ultrasound. And when I say it was enormous l do not mean abnormally so, I just mean that it was obvious to everyone who wandered into the room during my exam. Although, now that I think about it, I don't know if this changes the diagnosis or not. I thought a better term for a blighted ovum was anembryonic pregnancy and one yolk sac does not an embryo'd pregnancy make. Actually two yolk sacs don't do it either, which is a shame because after acknowledging the new presence of a yolk sac, everyone then went on to say, "Hey! Doesn't that look like a second yolk sac right there? Squished up next to the first one?" And we all said yes, yes, it surely does.

I have subsequently googled the subject (new google search: "embryo growth ridiculously slow but eerily consistent for past month and a half finally yolk sac about time looked good but second yolk sac too how fucked up is that") and have decided we were seeing the elusive "double blep." Although I am fluent in English and the internet discussion I read on the subject of double bleps was conducted entirely in this language I am afraid I am no closer to understanding what a blep is than I was as a newborn babe. However, I saw a picture and it looked like what we saw. Two circles, squoosed together.

Anyway, my ultrasounds continue to be an exciting laugh-a-minute and this newest data point enables me to definitively state that this pregnancy is growing at exactly one-third the normal rate (gestational sac now 5 weeks 3 days.) Seriously, everything matches except the enormous chunks of time in between events. If this was Farscape I would just assume that my appendix, spleen and pelvic whatnots are stuck in one of those pesky time fluxes and say oh tra-la-la, we need a time space continuum adjustment. However, since that is absurd, we can just continue to mutter Dooomed, DOOOOOOOMED.

My doctor called as I was typing. HCG level is now 7139 (last week 6358.) The physician who read the ultrasound said that the yolk sac is present (not to say I told you so but I DID say there was a yolk sac last week - so, I told you so) but looked weird. The exact nature of the weirdness was not specified in the report but I shall assume that it was the double blep that was being maligned in this manner. Tsk. She asked what I wanted to do and I said I thought I should come back in two weeks for another ultrasound. She said fine. I asked if you can test the genetic make-up of products of conception in the absence of clearly defined fetal matter and she said yes, but that incidence of mosaicism are more common in the placenta and therefore less reliable. I said gotcha. I asked what, precisely, I should do with the products of c. in the event of an actual miscarriage between now and two weeks from now and she said to put them in a baggie and bring them in. I quote, a baggie. My god, Midwesterners are adorable, they really are.

So we all have a two week break from everything having to do with my privates. I, for one, plan to use this lull to brush up on a foreign language and practice the art of breadmaking. I trust you will find equally constructive uses for the time.


Blighted ovum seems to be the diagnosis du jour. At least that is what my doctor theorized when we spoke on Friday. Hcg was, um, 6300, which means that it is maybe doubling every week. Yee-haw. Also? When I said that the gestational sac had grown about a week's worth last time? Yeah, well, I was as muddled as a julep when I decided that was true. I am too embarrassed to explain how I, a hard-boiled pregnancy veteran, became so confused on this issue but suffice it to say the gestational sac has actually grown a total of four days in two weeks. And I am the only person who thought there was a yolk sac - the physician who read the ultrasound did not mention it. Sooooooooo, yep, blighted ovum. Follow up on Thursday. Originally I was planning on avoiding a D&C this time around because a) I am in no particular hurry, b) the sac is so tiny the actual miscarriage will be quite easy, c) I do not need or want genetic testing [what will the Grove give me this time? a pony?] and d) eh, why bother?

But I started having some general pregnancy grossness this past week and let me tell you what I am not going to do- I am not going to slog through exhaustion and food avoision and lower back ugh and duodenal ack while this blighted pregnancy takes the scenic route to the River Styx. Nuh-uh. Nope. Forget about it.

So I will see what happens this week but I am throwing the D&C option back on the table. I am not sold on the idea exactly but I DO love love love anesthetic. So there is that. And I guess we might as well do genetic testing as long as we are at it. I mean, imagine if this is another unbalanced translocation. The mind boggles. Where WOULD we put the pony?

My school related self-sabotage continued today as I locked my keys in the car in the preschool parking lot. Fortunately I had already extracted Patrick, his backpack and the bag of donated supplies I brought in an effort to subtly bribe them into overlooking what will no doubt be many weeks of changing Patrick into dry clothes. So I dropped them all off (Patrick said, "Bye" and went to look for some book he really likes) and then I casually asked to use the phone and quietly begged Steve to come rescue me. He said he would be a few minutes so I gave an airy wave to nobody in particular and went to stroll through the cemetery.

An aside: the preschool is non-denominational but located in the basement of a local church. I was initially not very keen on this school because the approach is through their graveyard. Personally, I like a nice churchyard as much as the next girl (in fact probably rather more, we have an entire series of photographs of me in cemeteries throughout the US and Europe) but there is something rather depressing about the Nursery School sign stuck in amongst the tombstones. Steve told me I was being morbid and that he was sure I would hardly notice the surroundings in time and I agreed and signed Patrick up and then the day we went to visit they had an actual interment in process. Brrrr.

Today as I wandered through the grave markers I noticed that a lot of them are blank. Blank! These families have bought their plots, gone shopping for and eventually purchased their desired tombstone and then paid to have them placed just so. Now, one can only assume, they are just sitting around waiting to see who will be The First To Go. I like organized planning, heaven knows, but I think this is capital C Creepy.            

Finally, pulling this wandering mess in yet another direction, I need cookbook recommendations (again? I feel like I might have asked you this before.) Most of my books are now neatly reorganized (as part of the broader Finally Furnish the Living Room Initiative) and part of that process involved donating books that I am sure are great but I never ever ever read or use (the Betty Crocker Chilled Desserts Guide? Not so much.) Now that I look at that shelf I realize that I definitely need some new culinary fire. So let me know if you have cookbooks that make you swoon or shimmy. My lesser-known favorite is "Dinner in Minutes" by Linda Gassenheimer.

Sorry I have not been writing much lately, I have been feeling crabby. I suppose I can write cranky posts but they would be a bore to read, I think. Anyway, I am sorry. I feel guilty when I neglect you.   

First Day

I am in the middle of moving all of my books around so this will have to be brief. I started the book project last night and Patrick subsequently spent most of this morning playing Literary Avalanche with the piles of books that are now covering the living room floor. So for the safety of my Wodehouse I need to do something with them all before he "wakes up" from his "nap" (dry quotes indicate my awareness that Patrick is in reality just dragging his tin cup along the bars up there while playing a mournful harmonica but he should nap and I need him to be elsewhere for the moment, so we shall pretend.)

My preschool failures continued when we walked in yesterday and I neglected to sign us in (I later forgot to sign us out, so I guess if Patrick stole anything during the day the upside is that they have no proof we were ever there at all); when I unzipped Patrick's sweatshirt (I was gently reminded that they like to encourage the children to take off their own jackets) and when it was noted that I had failed to provide the requisite backpack as detailed in the Parents' Handbook (Parents' Handbook? in the registration materials? that we got two weeks ago? Ohhhhhhh! Yeah! THAT! it's somewhere....) I DID of my own initiative bring a ziploc bag with three pairs of underwear and two pairs of sweatpants, neatly labeled with Patrick's name (the bag, not the clothes- I am not Wonder Mommy) which is fortunate because I was the only parent to be handed a discreet Plastic Bag of Shame upon dismissal. I was impressed that I only got back ONE pair but decided it is probably in our best interest (what with their Zero Tolerance Diaper policy) to pretend that Patrick is not the type to merrily pee through pair after pair of underpants all morning long. In fact, if it happens again next week (who am I kidding? when it happens again) I am fully prepared to gently furrow my brow in confusion and murmur, "But... but he is perfectly trained at home. Perhaps you are frightening him in some way.....?"

Apart from my many shortcomings the first day went fine. We walked in and Patrick instantly suggested that we should leave but just as quickly allowed himself to be drawn into a small group of kids looking for little cars in a pile of confetti. I seized the opportunity to get his half-hearted attention (where are the cars?) and told him I was leaving, that he would have fun and that I needed a kiss. He sort of missed my face with his lips (is that a car? it is!) but close enough.

And I left briskly.

Then, much to my shock, *I* dissolved in the parking lot. I mean, I had read about this phenomenom but I never thought that I would personally succumb to such sentimental piffle. Yet, sure enough, I sobbed pitifully over the dashboard the whole drive home and then cried on Steve's shoulder for a while longer. Steve, you will be happy to know, managed to hold it together remarkably well despite the fact that our BABY was AT SCHOOL ALL ALONE. Monster.   

When I came back to pick Patrick up (five minutes early- the other mother there and I were not allowed in) he was reluctant to leave. He had covered two sheets of paper with the letters A through Z and he had a sticker shaped like a hand on his hand (he thought this was hilarious- HILARIOUS) and purple marker all over his left eyelid. When we got to the front door he turned around. "I want you to go home and I will go back to school," he said, as if he had just thought of the most marvelous idea and was certain I would agree.

It was an auspicious beginning. Although, you know, I definitely need to find a better way to spend the two free hours than I did on Thursday. After drying my eyes and having a cup of tea I put away all of Patrick's toys. It took me an hour and a half to neatly organize them by size and category. Five minutes after Patrick walked in every single toy was scattered to the four winds all over again.

I know when I am beaten.

Haven't talk to my doctor yet (perhaps I should leave a gentle reminder with the nurse line?) but if anything interesting happens with that conversation (it won't) I will let you know. 

I Am Already Failing Preschool

For weeks we have been talking about school. About how Patrick and I would go to his school together for the first day and meet his teachers and the other little kids and see if the room had any fish or hamsters. We talked about how we would stay for an hour or so and play and get used to everything and make lots of new friends. Then the next day, I carefully explained, he and I would go together but this time I would only be there long enough to make sure he was settled and then he would stay and play without me. He was a little tentative about this plan at first, but gradually seemed to be warming up to the idea.

So it is a shame that I completely screwed up and we arrived for the orientation 24 hours late, right in the middle of storytime for the four-year-old class. It was rather... embarrassing, to say the least. How could this have happened? I am an organized person. It was clearly marked on my calendar. I have been able to distinguish Tuesday from Wednesday with 99.4% accuracy for years. And yet, there we were, all ready to meet and greet and instead we had to turn around and slink home. Patrick was pleased, though, I think. Here he had probably been dreading this whole school thing that I had been making such a fuss about, and all that happened is he held my hand for five minutes while I talked to some strange lady and then we went home and broke out the sparkle Playdoh. School-shmool.

Tomorrow, however, is the actual First Day and I am not sure how either of us is going to handle it. On the one hand I don't want to overstay my welcome and kink Patrick's style if he is going to butterfly into one of those self-sufficient, see-you-later-Mommy types, on the other I don't want to abandon the child in a roomful of strangers and leave him for two and a half hours if it will traumatize him. I am hoping I will be able to intuit the proper thing to do when the time comes, like a cookie-making Yoda. Yes? I should be able to do that, right?

I should have been able to show up for the open house when it was actually open. Whoa. You don't suppose I am in denial, do you? That I subconciously thwarted the start of preschool because I don't want Patrick to leave me? Yikes! Moving on quickly before I shame myself even further today...

Slight pause as I left the house for an ultrasound, which can be summarized thusly: the gestational sac grew 5'ish days in a week and there is now a yolk sac. Well *I* thought it looked like a yolk sac (what with the round white circle attached to the side of the sac and all) and the ultrasound tech said yes it did, but she did not ring with confidence when she said it. I could not decide if this was because she did not really agree with me or because the OBs read the ultrasounds later and make the official determination about what is what. Then I realized that it really didn't matter anyway because, what, are we just going to ignore the fact that the whole shebang is dating three weeks behind? Of course not. Don't be absurd.

So we did another blood draw to check my hcg level (it will not be back until tomorrow) and then my doctor and I are going to discuss whatever there is to discuss on Friday.    

So, um, I... I have no idea what specifically is going on with this pregnancy. Something screwy, definitely, but what flavor? Persimmon? Pickled okra?

Wish me luck with school tomorrow. I do not want to be That Mother, the one who always forgets it is her day to bring snack, and who is no longer allowed to drive for field trips after the Unfortunate Incident of the Kid Left at the Zoo- but I fear I am not off to a promising start.    

A Patrick Post v.II

Tabasco Chipotle sauce is the new love of my life. Seriously. Forget Steve and even that guy from college who I never even think about anymore, mostly. The sauce is so good that I created a sandwich this week in its honor, the recipe for which I will share with you here, because I like you almost as much, whether or not you posess an ethereal smoky spiciness.

Julia's Grilled Cheese

Tabasco Chipotle

Sourdough bread (dense crumb), sliced thin

Red onion, sliced and then halved

Tomato, sliced (from the garden if you can get it; I cannot since slugs destroyed our tomato plants while we were in DC - another thing to lay at the door of IVF)

Extra-sharp cheddar cheese, sliced wafer-thin 

Liberally butter one side of as many slices of sourdough as you think you can eat (I am good for three.) Place the buttered side down in a large skillet and then shake shake shake Tabasco Chipotle on the bread. Arrange a few curls of red onion on each piece. Cover with a tomato slice. Top with the cheddar cheese. Put a lid on the pan and put it over medium-low heat (you want it to brown on the bottom but you don't want the butter to burn- keep an eye on it.) When the cheese melts, eat it.

Even Patrick loves this sandwich, although in his version the bread is whole wheat, the cheese is American, and he doesn't like red onion, sliced tomatoes or Tabasco. Whoever wrote that "by the age of three your child will be eating what the rest of the family eats" clearly expects people to live in households where everyone likes their pasta plain and their graham crackers in the shape of bears. Which is, of course, weird.

Patrick, by the way, is as delightful as ever. Honestly. This morning I turned to Steve and said, "Well, if we do only get to have one child at least the one we have happens to be perfect." Steve agreed and Patrick gave us both kisses. 

He has started helping me in the kitchen (Patrick, of course, not Steve. Steve hasn't helped in the kitchen since I met him) and by "helping" I mean that he drags a chair over to the counter and wants to stir everything, usually splashing three-quarters of whatever it is on the floor. Observe him contributing to the largest quantity of vegetable soup ever assembled for domestic purposesSoup2  [hey! how about that gorgeous new stock pot, eh? 26 Quarts of gleaming soupy goodness right there, my friends.] He is still intrigued by (shall we say obsessed with?) letters and numbers and has been slaving away for the past couple of months trying to learn how to write them. Actually, this proved to be such a source of irritation for me (he was having a hard time with it- he is little, his small motor skills are not so great, but would he listen to me and just give it a rest already? No-ooooo-oooo. Scribble scribble COMPLETE MELTDOWN FREAKOUT accompanied by high-pitched tearful, "That's a perfect H! But I was drawing a K!!!" shriek shriek) that I finally confiscated all of his writing materials, just like an oppressive government might do to a prisoner of conscience. But then I would find him sitting on the ground tracing letters in the air with his finger. True story. Anyway, he finally mastered that damned K and the accursed 5 to his satisfaction and things are happy around here again.

It helps that he has also shifted how he responds to life's little trials and now when he is frustrated or annoyed he says, "I want to go to bed RIGHT. NOW." Sometimes when he is really upset he adds, "No stories and no Bear." I am not sure what this means about his psyche (why punish himself?)  but I admit that I like having him cruise off in a huff better than having him kick or scream or something. Although, now that I think about it, this is why we abandoned our brief foray into Time Outs. One day Patrick was asphixating Neurotic Cat 1 and Steve decided to give him a Time Out (we had never established a Discipline Protocol and felinicide was imminent so he went with his instincts.) Strangely, Patrick was enchanted by the concept and proceeded to give himself Time Outs 50 times a day. He would walk over, smack a hapless cat upside its whiskers and then say, "I need a Time Out!" and skip over to the window seat where he would watch the bird feeder for a couple of minutes. Or sometimes he would just loll against a wall and stare dreamily into space until he decided his Time Out was over. Steve and I were frankly unnerved by this behavior and had to start saying "No, Patrick, no Time Outs. NO TIME OUT PATRICK! Keep playing, just don't hit the cat, ok?"   

Parents of the Year, ladies and gentlemen.

Whoa, speaking of The Boy I need to go wake him up. He has been asleep for three hours and if he naps any longer he won't go to bed until midnight. And Steve and I need him to disappear for the evening lo-oo-ng before midnight. I mean, it is healthier for him to maintain consistent and age-appropriate sleep habits. Yes.


Written this afternoon but thunderstorms here cut out our satellite connection for most of the day. I love the country. Really I do.

Home Sweet

Hi! Ho! Here I am! {Jumping up and down and waving arms} We didn't go! See? Look at me, all safe and snug and grilling cheese in my kitchen.

Just so you know, though, we almost went because I am a candy-assed guilt-sucker. First there was Steve who stayed home from a trip last weekend because my pelvis was supposed to explode and yet... nothing happened (but I did get him to go with me to pick out fabrics for the new living room furniture.) So when Monday rolled around and I was all intact he decided I am the girl who cried Surgery! and now he is just so over the whole ectopic thing. Besides, he pointed out, we have a social obligation to discharge and (for reasons I cannot possibly mention on the internet) this weekend would have been the mostest excellentest time to go. So Steve was in favor of going.

Then I made the mistake of telling my mother that I didn't really want to go all that much anyway, which led her to dismiss my medical limbo (I prefer limo, actually- I am in limo) with a "Sure, if you don't want to go I guess that is a fine excuse." Then she talked emotionally about how much she was looking forward to seeing dear, sweet little Patrick again. So my mom was in favor of our going.

I wrung my hands and read your tales of horror and put packages of dried apricots into my purse for the plane ride and tried to get a hold of my brother.

After dinner I went into our room to pack and promptly fell asleep on the floor for an hour. I decided to take this as a sign that I should not be packing and concentrated on getting my brother on the damned phone. When I finally succeeded he said, "Jules, it just is not worth it. If there is even a 1% chance you could have a problem you should just stay home. I would love to see you but this is just a fun weekend. It isn't worth risking anything, no matter how small the risk. Just stay home."

So here we are. The lesson, by the way, is that one (1) brother saying what I want to hear trumps one (1) husband + one (1) mother saying something else.   

To clarify: these ultrasounds have been both transabdominal and transvaginal and the ultrasound at my OB's office is the ultra-fancy only-one-in-the-Cities 4-D kind. It is an excellent machine. Yesterday's hcg level was 3800, so something should have been visible in the sac if there was anything to be seen. My new bet: blighted ovum.

I am modestly proud of the composure with which I have handled our slew of pregnancy losses (ninth miscarriage in progress - for those of you whose notes have gotten over-scribbled at home.) I do not go sobbing messily about the place. I cope with other people's babies and pregnancies just fine, thank you. You will recall that I flew to DC to help my sister-in-law with nary a mention of my concurrent pregnancy that failed? You will note that I helped with IVF-sprouted twin girls last week without a tremor? Yes? Right? Our grief, such as it is, does not interrupt the current of our days and I like it that way. Sometimes it is harder to achieve this sang froid than others, but on those days I just work at it more.

It turns out, though, that my pride in How Well We Handle Disappointment is also my Achilles heel. It has been a LONG LONG time since the stupidity or insensitivity of others has caused me a moment's pause. I am more like one of those gentle saints than anything human when I smile beatifically at some yapnats who asks if we did PGD because we only want a girl (my OB's lab tech, thank you) or when a neighbor talks about how very very glad they are that their children are less than two years apart. "No, we just want a healthy child," I respond mildly or "Oh yes! How lovely that they are so close." No problemo. Duck's back.

Today, however, my mom repeated that my brother thought we "have been doing this too long" and that "it has taken over our lives." My smile tightened until it almost cracked my face in half. And then the morning mail brought a condolence letter from my mother-in-law in which the word "acceptance" figured prominently.

Excuse me for a moment while I get a little shrill: WHAT THE FUCK?? Are they insane?? I am the goddamned Poster Muse for graceful acceptance. It is my Thing! I am perfectly aware of the fact that whatever we are doing it does not seem to be working. I get that we probably will not have another child. But I am a mere girlish 33. It seems a little early to throw in the towel just yet. Besides, we have an embryo, right this second, in the Frigidaire. That is at least one more try right there. And the Generals are due, man! THE GENERALS ARE DUE!!

Maybe if I was miserable, if we were miserable, I could understand the familial concern. If I never took their phone calls because I was under the bed drinking whipping cream from the carton and smoking, I could understand the desire to say "enough is enough." But we are fine. F-iiiiiii-iiiiiiii-nnn-e. What's the point of being all sweet and noble and stiff-upper-lip-y if no one notices? If I had realized that our nearest and dearest were about to issue Last Call I would have spent the past three pregnancies telephoning everyone at four in the morning, incoherent with Grief. I would have canceled all of the Miscarrying Holidays I hostessed. I would have refused to have anything to do with my two youngest nephews because "ours would have been... just... about... his... aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaggggggggggeeee-guh-guh-guh." 


Besides NO ONE is going to tell me when *I* am ready to stop trying. Got it? NO ONE. Personne.

Thank you for all of your concern and good advice yesterday. It helped, and I am glad we did not travel. I am so sorry, though, to read about the horrible experiences so many of you had. They all sounded terrible. I am glad you are okay.